When Cynthia Jeub first published allegations of abuse and mistreatment at the hands of her parents Chris and Wendy Jeub, Chris immediately messaged me over Facebook Messenger and asked me to publish the following article on Homeschoolers Anonymous. I refused. I am choosing to publish it now because Chris has begun publishing chapters of his new book about his children’s allegations and he portrays himself as an innocent victim of “social smearing.” He was “cancelled,” he claims. (Of course, Chris Jeub was never important enough to cancel, but try convincing a narcissist of that.) But the facts are that Chris admits in the following article—which was titled “Cynthia Is Not Wrong, But We Are Not Abusive“—that Cynthia is not just making things up. She “is not wrong,” he admits. She “has confronted us about abuse before.” This is because abuse is “an issue of which we have a history,” one that has caused their family to seek professional help. “There is validity in Cynthia’s accusations,” he adds later. Rather than offer commentary on Chris’s post, I’ll just let Chris speak for himself—and don’t forget to buy his book “Love in the House,” as he makes sure to remind us to buy it only five paragraphs in. (Chris has never passed up an opportunity to make money from his children’s pain, as evidenced in both this post as well as his new book). I bolded certain sentences for emphasis.
On Friday, my 22-year-old daughter posted an article showing my family to be a home of extreme physical abuse. It’s quite indicting. It’s out there, so you may as well read it here.
Cynthia has confronted us about abuse before. At times we’ve been defensive, mostly we’ve welcomed the discussion, even to the point of professional help, because it’s an issue of which we have a history and that we deal with as a family. The dysfunction Wendy and I witnessed as children was a chain we both wanted to break in our family.
You can write me off as a hypocrite, just as my friends can write Cynthia off as mentally ill. Judge if you will, but I invite you to go deeper.
My family has been moping around the house, depressed, wrestling with how to handle this. We are shaken by this sudden attack on us. We’re pressing on with what we know is liberating and good, particularly in three ways that I believe you will find interesting.
1. We will continue to be an honest and transparent family.
Our family life is public, and perhaps you know of our TLC episode in 2007. We have a complex and dysfunctional past, but we’ve not shied away from sharing it. Our book Love in the House dove deep into the story of our estrangement with our oldest daughter and turned it into an awesome story. This is a really good book, and I hope you (and especially your parents) read it and find the same kind of freedom we have found.
That’s how our family rolls. We are honest and transparent. Our lives are open books, and we encourage other homeschool families to find the same freedom and love that we have found. There’s a lot of clean-up from dysfunctional ideologies that keep the curtains closed and the abuse hidden, but our family is not one of them. We do not hide abuse in our home.
As much as I hate to hear our own daughter’s attempt to discredit us, I cling to the hope that there will be resolution in this. I would love to sink deep into the reasons she did this, seek professional counsel for this shocking recollection. Like any family who wrestles with the immense problems of abuse and mental illness, I’d prefer to keep it private.
But that changed with Cynthia’s public post. I’m forced to respond…
2. We strongly differ in Cynthia’s recollection of the past.
You should know that a couple months ago Wendy and I — at Cynthia’s demand — sought a professional counselor to seek help she felt we needed. She made her demands: no fluffy pastor friend and he or she had better have a PhD. We complied. We had just finished two lengthy sessions of counseling, and the next step was to have the counselor see Cynthia. The idea was to get to the point of family counseling, work out our problems, air our grievances with an impartial and professional aid, and hopefully come to fruition in the end.
Cynthia refused. She chose to write a public article instead.
Her brothers, too, attempted to counsel with her. Not on a professional level, but a personal one. The events in her post are actual events, but her recollection of these events and the claims she derives from them are — in our minds — grossly exaggerated. To us, the most disturbing images are…
• “You were spanked with a belt every day.” Homeschoolers seem to be infatuated with corporal punishment. But we do not beat our kids, and never with belts. Belts are not part of our discipline. This gross image is not true.
• “Please don’t let them look through the curtains.” Like the belt, this is an image of a house of the most gruesome, demented abuse. We have 12 children at home (three sons who could easily take me out). We are not sheltered, we are the most hospitable people, and we are public figures who even welcome cameras into our home. Pull the curtains and you’ll see joy, growth, and love, just as millions have seen on television and countless numbers of friends have witnessed. There is not abuse.
• “Everybody thinks that we’re perfect.” No, we are not perfect, and that’s our family’s point. Our home revels in the freedom that comes from not being perfect. We are a family that deals with and even goes public with our imperfections. This family thrives off its imperfections.
• “Mom slapped your face until you had cuts and bruises.” This is a recollection of an event seven years ago, a very humbling event in our family. But there were no cuts, and there were not repeated blows. Our family has dealt with this episode many times and, I suppose, could have gone public with it. But not in this light… (Note from Ryan: notice that Chris does not deny Wendy slapped one of her children and does not deny there were bruises from how hard the slapping was. And this was only seven years ago! It’s not ancient history.)
• “Did it happen again? – Yeah.” Cynthia is portraying one event as habitual, and this is grossly unfair to Wendy and her many siblings who do not recall this abuse as such. We do not slap or hit our children. Abuse is not in our home. (Note from Ryan: notice that Chris literally admitted Wendy did slap one of her children in the last paragraph, and now in this paragraph denies that such a thing ever happened.)
I so much wanted this to be in counseling. That’s where it should have been, not on the faceless Internet, not on HA. Our family needs help sorting this out, not unprofessional judgment from the internet community. I want so badly to hear Cynthia’s stories, but instead I’m forced to defend our honor and keep her from dragging her family into this hostile arena.
Please hear me: I’m not saying Cynthia is wrong. I’m saying our family are not abusers. There is a difference, if you care to look deeper.
I’m not sure if you have gone to counseling before, but it is often eye-opening. There is validity in Cynthia’s accusations, and though we sharply disagree with her claims, we are extremely open to explore the pain that is behind them. We don’t understand it — we’re bewildered, shocked, perhaps in some denial — but we are eager and willing to find the healing truth. I cannot accept her public accusations, but I want so badly to discover her undisclosed pain.
But she has refused.
So, Cynthia felt the need to go public. Perhaps there is some hope that she will come with us to counseling. I ask you to encourage her to do so.
3. We are still advocates for healing.
When Cynthia’s post went live, I had just finished reading Ryan’s new work, “Facing Our Fears.” I was in the middle of drafting a heavy blog post myself, gearing up to plow through another difficult, relational journey with my audience, showing how homeschoolers must face their fears and deal with abuse, mental illness, and their infatuation with what Ryan termed “the purity culture.”
Intellectually, I was having the most trouble with Ryan’s third point. But, with Cynthia’s post, abuse and mental illness quickly rushed to the front. Obviously.
Like pretty much all of Ryan’s writing, I found it challenging and convicting. “Facing Our Fears” is intense material, and I want to continue going down the road to articulating how we can deal with these deep-seated problems in the homeschool culture I raised my children in, and my children grew up in. The two perspectives — often in conflict with one another — are worth studying.
Cynthia’s post shocked me into despair, not just for Cynthia and our family, but for the homeschool community. I’m still trying to sort this out, but let me attempt to explain why.
Like it or not, we are a community that needs a counseling session. And each of us has our unique perspective to share.
For good or for ill, we’ve grown up in a subculture that has its issues. Ryan keeps reminding readers that he’s not out to take down homeschooling (and I believe him), and I keep reminding my readers that HA is not the most dangerous force to homeschooling (because many believe it is). Ryan keeps calling out for healthy dialogue and discussion, and I have been fighting the powers at hand to accept the challenge. I believe dialogue will help make our community stronger.
Perhaps Cynthia’s post helps push this point, but I fear that it puts this dialogue in jeopardy. The Jeub Family may just be shut out of this discussion. I don’t know. Those cards have yet to be played.
I do know this: I have to continue with the new heartbreaking reality of my family. We are an honest and transparent family, we have a loving and functional home, and we care deeply about victims of domestic abuse. We honestly have no choice but to press on. I hope this helps you do the same.